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Iraq suspends Reuters for three months following report on coronavirus cases

Iraq has suspended the license of the Reuters news agency after publishing an article saying that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country is higher than what has been officially announced.

Iraqi media regulator said he revoked Reuters’ license for three months and fined him 25 million dinars ($ 21,000) for what he called the agency’s violation of broadcast rules media.

In a letter to Reuters, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) said it had taken this action “because this matter is taking place in current circumstances which have serious repercussions on the health and safety of society”.

Reuters said it regretted the decision of the Iraqi authorities and stood by the story, which it said was based on multiple well-placed medical and political sources and fully represented the position of the Iraqi ministry of health.

“We are trying to resolve the problem and we are trying to continue to spread reliable information about Iraq,” the news agency said in a statement.

Asked about Reuters’ suspension in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN, Iraqi President Barham Salih said it was a “regrettable decision” made by an independent commission of the government.

“From my point of view, you would not put me in a situation where I would defend that. I am working with our legal team to revoke this and manage the situation, ”said Salih.

He said the Reuters story had caused distress because it involved a deliberate falsification of records by the government, which he said had not been the case.

Reuters report, released April 2, cites three doctors involved in the screening process, a health ministry official and a senior political official claiming that Iraq has thousands of confirmed COVID-19 cases, many more than the 772 he had publicly reported at that time.

The report was updated on April 2 to include a denial from a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, sent by text, which rejected sources’ claims about the spread of the disease, calling them “news”. incorrect “. In addition to the three-month suspension, Reuters has been ordered to issue an official apology.

As of April 13, Iraq has recorded 1,378 cases of COVID-19, including 78 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

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